Exhibit l Ordinary Circumstances, Extraordinary Conflict

Ordinary Circumstances, Extraordinary Conflict text with images of a judges gavel and uterus in the background.

John Hay Library Exhibit Reflects on Two Centuries of Debate over Abortion

Created in response to the Dobbs decision, Ordinary Circumstances, Extraordinary Conflict draws on Brown’s special collections to present open-ended observations on the commonality, history, and debate surrounding abortion in the United States and Rhode Island.

Whether in a court of law, at a protest, or over the kitchen table, abortion rivals any other subject for its capacity to elicit intense emotions and fervent arguments on both sides of the issue. Contemporary society’s shorthand terms for each side — “pro-life” and “pro-choice” — are themselves loaded with the political and moral beliefs that have fueled two centuries of debate over a procedure that dates back millennia.

Ordinary Circumstances, Extraordinary Conflict

In the John Hay Library’s exhibit, Ordinary Circumstances, Extraordinary Conflict, a curatorial team consisting of Brown faculty, graduate students, and medical practitioners of different genders, backgrounds, religions, and ages, as well as different ideological beliefs on abortion, offer original scholarly commentary on artifacts drawn from the Hay Library’s outstanding trove of special collections. With particularly strong holdings in the history of medicine, feminism, political extremism, and collections specific to Rhode Island, the Hay Library is well suited to produce an exhibit on the topic of abortion. According to Amanda E. Strauss, Associate University Librarian and Director of the John Hay Library:

Our strong history of medicine collections and our collecting focus on the interplay between ideology and social and political power provide unique insight into this universal topic. Exhibitions like this are one of the ways in which the Hay Library’s extraordinary collections can be drawn upon to contextualize and deepen understanding of history and current events as well as to put forth new knowledge that we hope will lead to further scholarship.

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn nearly five decades of the constitutional right to obtain an abortion, previously protected by law through the 1973 court decision Roe v. Wade. A vast number of people have been deeply impacted by the decision and its subsequent, ongoing outcomes. Many Brown students and faculty members immersed themselves in thought, conversation, and research about reproductive rights and the widespread role abortion has played in the human experience, including academic exploration of the topic in the Hay Library’s special collections. In response to this interest, the curatorial staff altered its exhibition schedule to make room for an installation in the main gallery that would provide space for scholarly considerations of abortion’s history, controversy, and, in particular, its role in the lives of countless ordinary people, especially women.

Exhibit Artifacts

Exhibit viewers will see artifacts like a set of wrought iron forceps made in Rhode Island in the early 1800s when cesarean section was generally too risky to consider; photographs of pro-life and pro-choice protestors at public rallies; documents from organizations like “Guidelines for Picketing” by Citizens Concerned For Human Life and a Planned Parenthood flier entitled, “A Closer Look at the Violent Opposition”; poetry, editorial letters, and newspaper articles; the 1868 influential publication, Criminal Abortion; Its Nature, Its Evidence, and Its Law by Dr. Horatio R. Storer; and the 1970s booklet Women vs. Rhode Island: Repeal Abortion Laws from the Rhode Island Coalition to Repeal Abortion Laws, a Brown University feminist group.

All of the objects on display are part of the historical record from two centuries of the lived experiences of both prominent and ordinary people in the U.S. and Rhode Island, who were associated with abortion in myriad ways, and who held differing beliefs. While the curatorial team’s focus has been to objectively present the issue of abortion legalization, they acknowledge that with a subject that impacts the lives of so many, complete objectivity is a difficult task. By foregrounding the long and often unacknowledged history of abortion that led up to the Dobbs ruling and the diverse, powerful emotions that fueled this history, the team’s intention with Ordinary Circumstances, Extraordinary Conflict is to provoke thought, discussion, and inquiry rather than present definitive truths. 

Content Warning and Support

Please note: This exhibit includes information and images related to birthing and abortion.

For Brown University Students who need support, please contact Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) at 401-863-3476; help is available 24/7 and 365 days/year. 

Exhibit Dates

Ordinary Circumstances, Extraordinary Conflict will run in the John Hay Library’s main exhibition gallery from May 11 to August 16, 2023. 

Accessing the Exhibit

Building hours and more information about Brown University Special Collections can be found on the John Hay Library’s website.

Related Events

Exhibit Opening Reception
Date and Time: Thursday, May 11, 2023 from 4 – 5:30 p.m.
Location: John Hay Library

Commencement Forum: “Ordinary Circumstances, Extraordinary Conflict” Exhibition Panel Discussion
Date & Time: Saturday, May 27, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Location: John Hay Library, Willis Reading Room

Exhibit / Akan Gold Weights: Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology Collection

On View: John Hay Library, Willis Reading Room (May 26 – December 16, 2022)

Mrammuo depicting a sawfish (HMA 98-38-50)  Gift of Mr. Peter Klaus and Dr. Anita Klaus.

For centuries the Akan people of West Africa used gold dust as a primary form of currency in everyday transactions and as part of an extensive trade with the North African Muslim states. To measure precise amounts of gold dust, an elaborate system of weights was devised. Akan Gold weights called abrammuo (singular, mrammuo) are closely linked with the Akan verbal arts of proverbs and are visual expressions of Akan culture and values. For the Akan, gold (sika) symbolizes the embodiment of life force (kra) and is considered the partner of the sun on earth.

Dates: May 26 – December 16, 2022
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit l Artistic Impressions of Brown University

The John Hay Library by Jill Armstrong, n.d.

“Artistic Impressions of Brown University,” features a collection of over 30 drawings, watercolors, etchings, and architectural plans depicting the Brown campus and East Side of Providence created by local architects, students, and international artists. 

Curated by Ray Butti, Senior Library Expert

Dates: May 26 – August 15, 2022
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Brown University Library Celebrates National Public Health Week 2022

In keeping with the theme of National Public Health Week 2022, Public Health is Where You Are, below are some relevant projects, initiatives, and resources from the Brown University Library.

Subscription resources available via the Library

A search for “public health” as subject retrieves these results in BruKnow, the Library catalog. You may use the filters on the left side to refine results by format, library, language, and more. Sign in with your Brown credentials to access or request any of the results.

Key academic research databases, books, journals, and other resources for Public Health can be found here: libguides.brown.edu/PublicHealth.

Freely-available online resources for reliable health information

KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues, as well as the U.S. role in global health policy. KFF develops and runs its own policy analysis, journalism and communications programs, sometimes in partnership with major news organizations. KFF serves as a nonpartisan source of facts, analysis and journalism for policymakers, the media, the health policy community and the public.

MedlinePlus.gov

Offers high-quality, relevant health and wellness information that is trusted, easy to understand, and free of advertising, in both English and Spanish. It is a service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which is the world’s largest medical library and a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Global Index Medicus

Provides worldwide access to biomedical and public health literature produced by and within low-middle income countries. The material is collated and aggregated by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office Libraries.

More freely-available online resources can be found here: libguides.brown.edu/ConsumerHealth

Center for Digital Scholarship projects

Learn more about the Twitter projects on Black Maternal Health and My Body My Choice that the Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS) staff have collaborated on with faculty. Information about other CDS projects can be viewed on the CDS website.

Special Collections

Request access to special collections materials at the John Hay Library on Alcohol and Addiction Studies, ACT UP Rhode Island, and more! Find information about many special collections holdings and researching and accessing to special collections.

Announcement | Brown Library publishes “Race &” in America digital book series

Free and open publication documents and expands series exploring origins, history, and legacies of anti-Black racism in the U.S.

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] Over the course of the 2020-21 academic year, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown, in partnership with the Office of the Provost, undertook a systematic investigation of the foundational and enduring contemporary effects of anti-Black racism in America. Drawing on the expertise of Brown scholars from a range of fields and scholarly perspectives as well as the University’s historic strength and leadership in scholarship on race, the pioneering “Race &” in America panel series generated critical engagements with society’s most fundamental and urgent questions. Investigating the role that racism plays in American public health, democracy, punishment, and more, the informed and illuminating discussions deepened knowledge and awareness in the service of promoting a more just and inclusive community and world. The “Race &” in America digital publication series amplifies the impact and extends the reach of this important and timely panel series.

Developed by the Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative and in close coordination with Tricia Rose, Chancellor’s Professor of Africana Studies, Associate Dean of the Faculty for Special Initiatives, and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, the “Race &” in America digital publication series re-presents the compelling original panel discussions with expanded content and resources in an innovative, interactive format, designed to heighten understanding and broaden these critical conversations. “The ‘Race &’ series and its creative digital presentation reflect two core elements of CSREA’s vision: to foster dynamic intellectual community on crucial issues and ensure long-lasting access to ideas,” said Rose. “By offering an array of Brown faculty reflecting on the importance and complexity of the way race defines American society from slavery to genetics to art, and making it available through this interactive, digital platform with enhanced content, we’re able to contribute to ongoing conversations on these critical issues.”

The “Race &” digital publication is a remarkable example of Brown’s dedication to its mission of creating and sharing knowledge in service of society. According to Richard M. Locke, Brown University provost: 

Brown is committed to conducting and disseminating widely consequential research designed to elevate awareness of pressing societal issues and contribute to meaningful change. The “Race &” in America series is emblematic of this commitment. Over the course of a year, we have shared Brown’s faculty expertise in the interwoven areas that define and perpetuate anti-Black racism in the U.S., and through this engaging digital delivery, we’re able to amplify and extend the impact of these important contributions.

As an open access publication, the digital series provides enduring, barrier-free access to information, and has been developed with universal design principles for equitable use by all persons, including those with disabilities. In addition, the series features responsive design — readable on all digital devices, from smartphones to desktops — and robust highlighting, annotation, and sharing tools that encourage deep reader engagement and allow users to interact with one another.

Each of the eight volumes in the digital series includes:

  • A recording of one of the 90-minute panel discussions that took place throughout the 2020-2021 academic year
  • Student Voices podcast episodes in which Brown University students engage the panelists in follow-up discussion 
  • Recommendations for entry-point materials on the subject
  • Multimedia resource collections of readings, online exhibitions, podcasts, and other materials referenced during the panel discussions
  • Suggestions for further exploration

“The ‘Race &’ in America series is an important step forward for Brown’s leadership in both scholarship on race and digital scholarly publications,” said University Librarian Joseph Meisel. “It ensures that the penetrating perspectives and fresh critical analyses advanced through this remarkable academic initiative are not simply preserved as a video link on some website, but rather rendered more fully in a format that sustains and broadens the impact of this essential work for education, further research, and public understanding.”    

The digital series consists of eight volumes:

Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative — a collaboration between the University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, generously launched with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — creates exciting new conditions for the production and sharing of knowledge. Widely recognized as accessible, intentional, and inclusive, Brown’s path-breaking Initiative is helping to set the standards for the future of scholarship in the digital age.

Questions about the “Race &” in America digital publication series or the Library’s Digital Publications Initiative generally can be addressed to Allison Levy, Digital Scholarship Editor ([email protected]).

Announcement | PubMed Redesign

PubMed users will notice some major changes this week. As of May 18, the biomedical literature database is now defaulting to the new, redesigned interface. As always, the best way to see Brown University’s full text options is with the Library’s custom link.

New interface changes include:

  • Ability to cite references quickly in your preferred citation style format (AMA, APA, NLM, or MLA)
  • Option to share references via social media or a permalink
  • Responsive design for use on any device — mobile, desktop, or tablet — with the same features and functionality. On your mobile device, bookmark (or add to your home screen) this URL: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?myncbishare=brownu
  • Citations are initially sorted by the Best Match algorithm, but display preferences such as sort order and items per page can be adjusted using the “Display options” button.  

Most features remain – including clinical queries, the advanced search, MeSH database, search details (on the Advanced page now), and your MyNCBI account. Additionally, you’ll be able to export citations to citation management tools (e.g., EndNote, Zotero, Mendeley) through the “Cite” feature or by sending a batch of citations to your Citation Manager.  

Looking for the legacy interface? For a short time you’ll still be able to use it, at https://pmlegacy.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Please contact [email protected] for questions or instruction requests. 

The National Library of Medicine has created a page with links to PubMed tutorials and handouts. Take some time to explore the interface, and provide feedback to NLM at https://support.nlm.nih.gov/support/create-case/?category=plabs

Exhibit | Dis/Assemble: Making Meaning from the Minassian Collection

Leaf, Minassian Collection of Persian, Mughal, and Indian Miniature Paintings

Dis/Assemble

Dis/Assemble is a collaborative effort by graduate students from across ten different humanities disciplines to construct narratives around a continuously moving archive: the Minassian Collection of Persian, Mughal, and Indian Paintings and Calligraphies at Brown University. This collection evokes questions of assemblage and disassemblage, from sifting the extraordinary from the ordinary to practices of collecting and taxonomizing. Visitors are invited to participate in the creative act of engaging with fragments and fragmentation as they behold, imagine, and truly see the objects on view.

Opening Reception & Curator’s Introduction

Monday, March 9, 2020
4:30 p.m.
John Hay Library

Discussion

“Making Meaning from the Minassian Collection”
Monday, March 9, 2020
5:30 p.m.
Lownes Room, John Hay Library

Guests

  • Dr. Navina Haidar, Nasser Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah Curator in Charge of the Department of Islamic Art
  • Dr. Maryam Ekhtiar, Associate Curator of the Department of Islamic Art                      The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dates: March 9, 2019 – May 25, 2020 & September 1 – December 15, 2021
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Intercalary Event 2020

Works by
Katie Bullock, Faculty, Glass, Rhode Island School of Design
Jocelyne Prince, Faculty, Glass, Rhode Island School of Design
Sean Salstrom, Graduate Study, Glass, Rhode Island School of Design

Artists approach research differently than scientists. The freedom through which artists pursue research allows their inquiries to breed multivalent results, often seemingly unconnected results which can then act as springboards to new ways of seeing and communicating with the world. Bullock, Prince and Salstrom’s artistic practices cultivate curiosity that interposes surprising elements into the narrative of objectivity and data, and in doing so, invite intercalary events in the vitrines of the Hay Library.

Intercalary Event 2020 exhibition locations include the John Hay Library, Chazan Gallery at The Wheeler School and Ladd Observatory.

Opening reception: Thursday, February 13th, 2020, 5 – 7PM

Exhibit Dates: January 21, 2020 – December 1, 2021
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Thanksgiving-Day, November 24, 1864, United We Stand

Harper’s Weekly, December 1864; Brown University Library, Special Collections

Created by famous political cartoonist Thomas Nast, these eight vignettes depict a “state of the Union” featuring President Abraham Lincoln during his reelection year. Each rendering touches on a significant factor during the Civil War, which was in its fourth year and with no clear victor at the time. The double-page image, published in Harper’s Weekly in December 1864, reflects the artist’s more illustrative work. Nast is also credited with crafting the modern American representation of Santa Claus during the course of his time at the magazine.

Exhibit Dates: November 1 – 30, 2019
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Announcement | Wall Street Journal Access

Brown University Library and The Wall Street Journal 

Brown University Library and The Wall Street Journal have partnered to provide school-sponsored WSJ memberships to all Brown University students, faculty, and staff. Through the partnership, readers have complete and personalized digital access to The Wall Street Journal and the WSJ app.

How to activate your complimentary WSJ membership: 

Students, faculty, and staff at Brown University can activate their complimentary memberships by visiting WSJ.com/Brown, logging into their school portal, and creating an account on the registration page. Those who currently pay for an existing membership may call 1-800-JOURNAL, and mention they are switching to their subscription provided by Brown University. Partial refunds will be dispersed. 

About The Wall Street Journal 

The Wall Street Journal is a global news organization that provides news, information, commentary, and analysis. Published by Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal engages readers across print, digital, mobile, social, and video. Building on its heritage as the preeminent source of global business and financial news, the Journal includes coverage of U.S. & world news, politics, arts, culture, lifestyle, sports and health. It holds 38 Pulitzer Prizes for outstanding journalism.